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tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  February 10, 2014 5:00am-6:01am EST

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>> the first, this is about giving chemicals out of our drinking water. there are chemicals in commerce. each can impact a drinking water source. is best thing we can do keeping these harmful chemicals out of our drinking water sources. them --nnounce of prevention would be worth a pound of cure. hadould not be here today the storage facility in this
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incident provided adequate storage and containment. in light of this catastrophic release, and have been many calls for robust inspections and controls. united water joins with those calls. protein -- propagation of a spill of a water supply is critical. service water systems are at the mercy of those located upstream from the water intake structures. advance warning and notification is critical in any emergency response. receiving timely notification can make a bad situation less bad and help mitigate the most significant risk to the public. a water provider may have no way to detect or respond to the presence of a contaminant and it
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is too late in in the system. having two hours or one hour or even a half-hour can make a big difference repairing for chemicals that are headed toward its intake structure. closing a structure and waiting until a threat has passed is not possible. these have to be balanced with threats to the community. these can be difficult decisions to make. third, water systems need better specific data to identify and prepare for these risks. public water systems use a number of tools to identify and prepare for risks. most of these tools assess broad general categories of risks and provides pacific data about chemicals upstream that if released can affect that water system.
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this needs to be made. the federal emergency right to know act requires facilities to tore hazardous substances provide data annually to local emergency responders. there is a requirement provided to nearby water systems. act requires any place it has a leak to nana five the response center and local responders. there is no requirement that a nearby water provider be notified. needs support. rigorous assessment of these risks can be a complex process.
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it requires significant resources and expertise. many systems do not possess. most effective solution has greater education and collaboration and communication with the epa and stakeholders in a watershed about the importance of source water protection. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman and members of the subcommittee. we are a drinking water survivor near west virginia. 300,000n charleston and people have been dealing with this were 26 days. i'm here to talk about water protection and preventing contamination from the the west virginia rural water association.
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senators thank rockefeller and ranch in for their assistance in this crisis. for the sake of time i will summarize the six essential policy runcible's included in my written testimony. the best plan is one that has developed local officials who know their particular vulnerabilities. consider my water supply. we can treat up to 4 million gallons of water each day gathered from streams and are vulnerable to contamination similar to the recent oak river spill. we have completed an extensive contamination prevention plan and emergency contingency plan. work, itfor a plan to can't just sit on the shelf. local officials must believe in it and let it influence their conduct and attitude. map is displayed
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here. points of concern include truck stops, interstate and railroad and commercial enterprises like gas stations. it is not feasible to remove threats from our watershed. andave policies to detect minimize the effect of a spill and establish emergency contingencies including interconnections with neighboring suppliers. most important elements of our plan is constant monitoring of our source water to detect contaminants. find -- if we do find contamination we can keep a clustered --ir is sequestered. it is difficult to have a federal regulatory solution to this issue. tracking supplies
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have challenges. rural water associations have been advocating for local community step protection -- plans.s over 1000 communities have completed the role water process and are rejecting their source water. consider how many contamination been avoided.s of a few years ago, august provided a small package of funding to the state agencies a protected groundwater. there was a disclosure database of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. this was successful. investment,federal the system could also publicly
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disclose all watersheds and potential threats within. communities have adopted these , such enterprise empowers the people who benefit from a clean and safe environment. they can take responsibility for security. every state and locality thinks it is doing the best job possible, this allows the public to make sure the claims are accurate. thek you and on behalf of small communities, we are grateful for your assistance. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. i am a lawyer and practicing here in washington dc. i want to make it very clear that i am not representing a client or any organization here. not being compensated for anything i am saying here today.
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i am responding to the committee's invitation as a citizen. and speak to the chairman's concern of federalism. i want to sound a note of interests andthe intensity of the work that is being done here in this committee. i suspect throughout the entire nation, the chemical industry intensely will looks of the concerned that the situation has raised. factorse a great many in addition to regulations and influence what america's chemical industry does. are factors other than laws. there are human factors that investigations and trade association issues that have been raised. matters that the
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committee may or may not have been briefed on. influence caution before we rush into federal legislation. with this focus that is being placed on the magnifying glass of this committee and other activities that are surely going on in the country, should we really rush immediately into federal as a solution? i think we should be cautious. generate a fogts of some kind, simply burdened by the weight of information and shock and alarm and confusion. sometimes i can obscure cure -- deliberation. it is important as this committee is doing today to give the state and local authorities a full opportunity to fully investigate and deliberate and
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decide what future action should be. when that fog clears, federal intervention may be unnecessary. that the west virginia legislature is actively tosidering bills and laws deal with the situation. once those are passed, our laboratories of democracy may decide to develop solutions for their own unique operations. it may be very different from west virginia. those solutions may become committed by voluntary programs developed by industry. a top-down management situation of federal solutions may actually display some protective systems of state and local laws. for those reasons, i think we should be cautious.
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presence of a federal regulatory gap does not necessarily mean that a hazard exists uniformly across the nation. some of those hazards may be dealt with by other restraints. a one-size-fits-all federal approach may sometimes even reduce safety by preempting ,roader, more effective tailored solutions. because -- it calls for caution and the liberation. this committee is doing it. i suggest they continue to do so and keep these in mind. mind prevention is in regarding substances that are stored. west virginia and other states as well as the epa have guidance documents on this subject. they provide commonsense information and advice that could prevent the tragedy in
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west virginia. look at westwill virginia and their documents about aboveground storage tanks, they suggest and refer to existing regulatory standards which, if obeyed, would have prevented this spill into the surface water here through secondary containment. tragedies, this cannot be blamed on the absence of law. --can be blamed on have human error. we be cautious as he walked into the situation. not every problem requires federal legislation. every problem, especially serious ones, deserve careful consideration.
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community members, and i applaud workmmunities here, with the committee. suggest restraint and caution as to move forward. >> thank you very much for your testimony. >> good morning. my name is peter weaver. i'm vice president of government affairs. and oureen with ilta members operate in all 50 states. we handle the could commodities from chemicals of petroleum alex to biofuels and vegetable oil.
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freedom and histories is a member. -- freedom industries is not a member. i've served as an officer in the merchant greens and i began with the engineering department of an ilpa founding company. we have a sale but on chesapeake bay. no one is harming our nation's waterways is a personal priority to me and my family and closest friends. we are committed to the safe reduction of our facilities. vast majority of us, we want rigorously enforces laws and regulations. levelsor environmental are perfect it in. there is the clean water act and the clean air act.
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all of our facilities are subject to regulation requiring tank inspection and secondary containment. some state laws carry additional requirements. terminals follow industry standards and best practices for maintaining the eggert -- integrity of their equipment. to examples.nce the epa has a spell -- spill prevention policy. incorporates robust standards for tanks and pipeline integrity. sbc see also has regulations of secondary containment.
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there is financial responsibility of plans must be certified by a professional engineer. the epa regulates emergency planning. it requires facilities to inform their local emergency planning all hazardous materials in their possession. i should add the newly defies -- requireosha standards communication. in west virginia, state regulations required secondary containment for above ground storage they can protect groundwater for least 72 hours. we understand that state and federal agencies are all investigating the freedom industries accident. there's no question that these will be extensive investigations. we expect resulting incident reports will cite factors contributing to the release of -- and violations of
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regulations. we are interested in these findings. we are adjusted how the chemical estate -- escaped containment. circumstances exist where a situation like this could occur. oversight that the should begin with understanding of the circumstances. we contend that a federal legislative response at this moment would be premature. once final investigation reports are released, specific reasons for these failures will be better understood. have -- to reduce occurrence in other communities will move forward. regulations,ded the most effective response to be through more consistent enforcement rather than admission of burden and the confusion of another layer of legislation and regulation.
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with regard to the safe drinking water act, measures with proposed to require construction centers and spill protection and inventory control. within the terminal industry, regulations require strict adherence to provisions and are directly applicable to freedom industries. thank you for the opportunity. i'm happy to respond to questions. >> let me thank all seven of our panelists. it was very helpful to us, the information that you supply. , i could not agree with you more about the need for infrastructure. the state revolving fund is inadequate to deal with the challenges of a modern water treatment. .e to get adequate funding
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we have worked very hard to on thee the funding revolving funds and to updated list more of needs for the country. , ino have creative ways today's difficult environment, it is difficult to get the resources necessary. that is part of prevention. that is part of having the capacity to deal with the challenges of today. that you need better and more specific data. you must have difficult information to respond. that is not available today in the watersheds. is aimed at proper
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classification of the 80,000 plus chemicals that we have in america. that number grows every day. safe taking water act is save at we have -- having drinking water in our communities by providing methods. i want to agree with you on federalism. we believe in the states. we believe the government closest to people is the most responsible. we also need to recognize that safe drinking water is an interstate problem. maryland could do everything that is reasonable but the water is coming from west virginia and if west virginia does it do it's reasonable, and the people of maryland are at risk. i think there is a proper balance on the federalism. i could not agree with you more. that is why we are reluctant to preempt local government.
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being debatede is today. we are reluctant because things change quickly. chemical change quickly. need to beclosest are able to respond. we are reluctant to ever take away that authority from the states. on the other hand, we do need to have national guidelines. on getting better and more specific information is an area where the government -- federal government needs to fill in the blanks. i want to get at this for one moment. we talked about the damages people are sustaining. we want to minimize the risk where you had storage facilities so close to the elk river. that should've been a red flag. knownformation was not and the response was difficult
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think if thist chemical did not have a smell? determinele to something was wrong. if it did not have that smell, it would've been several days before the source would've been determined and more people would've been at risk. a lot of people were damaged. her health was damaged, there are homes were damaged, their businesses were damaged. during the work you do in west virginia you will come forward with suggestions to us as to how we can minimize the cost to the taxpayer and the individuals and find ways to hold those responsible accountable for the damage they have caused. any thoughts on that? >> yes, senator. there've been efforts made already. how have talked about
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devastating this is, our confidence has been shattered. i received letters from a father whose wife is pregnant. this should be a joyful time and it is a fearful time for them. through something very frightening. what we've done in the secretary it -- iss office, it the businesses we are trying to help. most of our economies from small businesses. i make reference to a specific business, think of what is behind those businesses. it is people. .t is the employees i was on the water lines all people were waiting to receive water jugs filled up. that is right met so many of these people who are minimum-wage employees who are off the job who are missing a shift, maybe missing a payment on a car or utilities.
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i have worked with the secretary a state's office to have piece of legislation called small business emergency relief fund where the governor along with other agencies have the ability to have emergency rules that would aid those businesses and aid those employees in those -- and those workers who lost wages. >> think very much. >> that you, mr. chair. to go to you. you raised the frustrations in the aftermath of a spill. there was a lack of clear guidance and information. there was a last -- lack of trustworthy information. a group of 24 west virginia scientists sent a letter to the epa and the cdc voicing similar
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concerns. ify said among other things the government had been morphed forthcoming, citizens and local officials would've been able to make better choices about the actions needed to protect their families and communities. quotes --re those concerns. ada and thewant the cdc to do now and this it is possible to rectify that uncertainty and lack of trust? >> i share those concerns. that is why i have taken action on many different levels. i have taken action in writing to the cdc and asking what they know so west virginians will know. level is safe for the water? how did it get to that level?
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be forthright with the citizens. letter and have petitions from west virginians. we are working from within the secretary of state's office to register many of these oversight and at an to have indicated whether a particular company holds chemicals and source chemicals and how we might be able to indicate that on our database that we have. we have a very transparent agency within the secretary of state's office. i pride myself in that. we are efficient and transparent. with thate requirement through our state code. >> thank you. secretary huffman, thank you for your comments.
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i'll pass along my thanks to mike dorsey. i want to highlight some important things in that work. the epa should not have to find definenable -- unreasonable risk in current law to move forward. without be important in your mind? >> yes, senator. one of the things that created more confusion in a time of uncertainty in those first 44 to 48 hours was that lack of information about this particular chemical. it was very frustrating trying to explain to a concerned public -- have been told
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not to use their water that you do not know. they want to know what we do know, which was very little about this chemical. it degraded from there. fromg that information is information that we must have. >> also, it seems to me it should be a big priority. it is with me and are offered -- efforts. the state must have a clear role in dealing with the epa and telling them what they think should be high-priority. of healththat lack and safety information should be a cry -- criteria for priority. a factor like proximity to can be a clear
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factor in prioritization. from't seem to be lessons this incident. would you agree with that? >> you have said all. that is absolute true. >> thank you very much. >> senator boxer? >> i agree. as you look at this bill, we should say if these chemicals are stored by drinking water wouldes centers, i support your point. in the chemical is stored i a drinking water supply and to get into the water, we should prioritize that. that is critical. as the law is proposed, it is not the case. problem with the bill would not be helped by the bill.
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the bill is written to provide the public with the illusion of an effective federal program. that ties the epa in knots and takes away is authority. the chemical spill in west virginia is an illustration of why we need to strengthen the bill. that in myto say view, this says it all to me. the last thing i want to do is give people the illusion of protection and that is why as we , this particular spill should give us a lot more urgency to get that right and not pass a bill that is a phony deal. i feel very strongly about it. with what youen
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throughut your ability .our office you deal with small businesses. you license them? you create a database? >> we register businesses and corporations and llc's? they file an annual report. authorities -- what i thought you heard you say -- what i thought i heard you say it -- it is under the jurisdiction of the dep. for added transparency they need to have that. as i have said, we have a
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wonderful database. the more information that you put into it, the better it is for the public to be able to see. that is one step that i am looking at as a result of this crisis. >> we have 80,000 chemicals out there. we know very little about them. have chemicals along drinking water paths, this is a red flag. the point about regulation, the truth of the matter is there is no regulation except for the above ground oil storage. we have not moved forward with regulation. i think the chairman here has pointed out that there is a law, but there is no regulation. that is why the bill is so critical. eloquent, and i love
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lawyers, it does not get to the point of where we are. suffering ateople this time. , without getting into an argument about , i would rather see if we can help you solve the problem. since you have the responsibility under current law, states have to declare the water is safe, you need some help in monitoring and measuring and i want to get to that in a minute. we need to make sure in the future with these 80,000 chemicals, do you have any idea have any chemicals might be stored all over this nation at.
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-- at various water supplies? >> i can speak to just our member facilities. concern that the the product might leave the property. go,urce terminal industries harm is done if the product gets off site. if the product is reaching a private property, -- >> >> i'm asking you if you know. do you have any clue as to how many above ground storage tanks with chemicals in them, we know some of them have salad oil in them, we are talking about chemicals, common of these are
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located along water supplies? >> i do not know the number? -- do unit have a guess? you have a guess? looked at scores of these assessments and virtually every one of them has some storage tank near a water supply. that is done because it is convenient. >> i will disclose at this point. we have a massive problem and we don't know how massive it is. we know because of the people in west virginia. we will do everything we can to help you get the information you need. after this, please let us know how i can help. i know we are trying to do a great job. we need to have an assessment. the quickest way is the bill.
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the bill says that every state has to look at, it is such a huge problem. mr. olson is an advocate and does not have a clue of how many of these freedom industry operations are out there waiting to cause havoc. spill --had not been a smell to this, we still may not know. the bill would say that every state, you make an assessment and we will help you. let us have a plan for inspections that are carried out by the state. .hese are for emergency plans that is taken very seriously in his industry. you've got a road operator like this who absolutely -- they are
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cowards. they are running away and leaving the people and that is an absolute outrage. people are frustrated. people are upset and they always turn to the government. how about having some corporate responsibility? how about making sure that you as a good corporate citizen ensure the safety of the people? not have a press conference and say you have to go now? and then file for bankruptcy? basic humanation of decency, what they did. we have to protect the people. that is our job. to the chairman. am grateful to the senators
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for cooperating. we are going to push this legislation. we will make sure that the states have the resources and we have their back. as they moved to protect the right from the most basic , to be able to take a glass of water and not worry that your kid is going to get cancer. ok? let's put it that way. i want to say to the people of , how much i want to do to stand by you in this crisis. i thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator boxer. in thentioned your help
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turnaround time of this hearing. i thank you very much for that. i acknowledge you have a conflict earlier. is nice to have you sitting next to me at the committee. you give the opportunity to senator bozeman. thisank you for holding hearing on such an accord topic. i apologize for being late. we have people from all over the world at a prayer breakfast. that i heads of state had to visit with. thank you very much for putting up with me, mr. chairman. follow-up along the same line as senator boxer. importance ofthe public disclosure of sources of contamination to allow the public to regulate them. i agree. in favor of doing that.
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do you or any of the other witnesses have any thoughts about how we can balance that value of public disclosure with the need to protect the sites in a post-9/11 world? we not want to create a situation where we things thaticize are potential targets for terrorists or people who would cause us harm? >> to you, senator. i understand that there is a need for balance with a post-9/11 era. reality, this information is out there now. web andgo through the find information on most drinking water utilities in the united states. you can find information about where they're located, where the treatment plants are located. how we would go about keeping
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information confidential and yet engaging the public in making them part of the solution in protecting their source water, i do not have the flanges that. >> anybody else? senator, i have some thoughts. systemstes have online for the management of hazardous substances for which companies under -- are required to file. that is a confidential database of the state and local level. it seems to me perhaps that information can also be made andlable to water companies proximity to those facilities in the same kind of confidential database that exists. thatt me ask you, you said
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while more data is necessary for response preparation, it is important to use the information effectively rather than just dumping massive amounts of data on small water systems. can you explain what you envision? >> one of my concerns is that some of these are very large. they might be thousands of square miles with industrialized facilities. if legislation requires that these systems be provided with , that is aesponse lot of information for any public water system today just and understand and figure out how to respond to. what we have heard this morning about prioritizing, those facilities close to water
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supplies, those are the ones that are critical for that information to be in the hands of water providers downstream. >> i agree with that. what has been highlighted earlier today, a lot of these assessments have already been done. a lot of the facilities of been flagged already. there is some information available. the key is more -- getting more detailed information to them. the bill that has been introduced by senator mansion would take a step in that direction. into the with him that situation at the state level. that would be a significant step forward to getting action taken to deal with these immediate threats. >> anybody else? very good. i do appreciate your leadership,
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mr. chairman and i enjoyed working with you on these issues. topic thatimportant we can deal with. >> i appreciate the cooperation we have this committee. we try to do everything we can in a nonpartisan manner because it involves public health of the people of this nation. i want to give each of you an opportunity to respond if you want to. you have heard information that would be helpful. you heard of the failure to exhibit reasonable caution. it was an aboveground storage. the epa publishes only 90 contaminants as far as .egulation on how to respond chemicals are one aspect.
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90 is a small number compared to the total list -- risk factor that could enter our water system. asked for too much information, and information is going to be useful. we have before us a specific -- i went to get your specific views if that bill is the right priority as you see it for federal action or whether there are other areas you would like to see us look at? as with most successful establishing laws, minimum federal standards is vitally important. want toot -- we do not
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much of a disparity across the country in how things are regulated. we see various industries moving around to find the least regulated. the thing about the bill, it doesn't of course. the other thing it does is it the prevention piece. we talked about understanding .he chemical the key is prevention. that's what this bill does. looking at it from an environmental regulator from virginia, we have to keep this in the tanks. it leaves the tanks, we have to keep in the secondary containment. it can be done. we can absolutely do that. we have to stop looking at chemicals in the form of whether it is oil-based or a hazardous classification.
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we learned that anything that has the potential to negatively impact the public water supply, no matter how innocuous it may seem, we to be able to regulated. in west virginia, we have 3500 tanks that are regulated or not the way to freedom tanks were regulated. the only way to get that kind of certainty that we can keep this material in a tanks and in the secondary containment is to have inspectioning and and certification. we can do that, we can minimize the risk of this happening anywhere in the country. >> let me go back to mr. weaver. >> thank you. with regard to the proposed bill, as a heads up -- as i have regulationxisting
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consistently applies to the vast majority of storage tanks. with regard to this incident, it may be that exemptions could have enabled them to escape that regulation. it is possible that there may have been file agent of those regulations. the results of the investigation, we will have a much better basis upon which to begin acting. specific reasons will be understood. we will know how the product off the site. that is when measures are prevents are most effectively being identified and implemented. for the greatest effectiveness, through the refinement and sophistication of existing are objective is to
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keep the product contained. >> is earnest and that we have per troll him. some of the other contaminants we do not. >> there are some exemptions for many chemicals. some are included and others are not. facility gets brought into the regulation at a low threshold. are very few there facilities all these chemicals that are fully exempt because petroleum products are pervasive. >> that could be a way to utilize the regulation? >> in west virginia it was a cleaning product. is the epa is not
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issued standards for hazardous materials. that is a big gaping loophole, as i mentioned in my testimony. the bill would move things forward, at least for those tanks that are near drinking water supplies. point is an investment in our infrastructure. this is yet another reason to highlight that. this treatment plant simply did not have the resources or the technology to deal with this type of spill. there are others across the country that do not. one of the things that i have not heard about that is that is thethink, community right to know act. that was passed by this congress.
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that involves notification and procedures by which versions in the community can become aware and know how to respond to particular situations by virtue of notification. i'll hasten to say i am not a thorough expert, it would be worth comparing those systems so there is not a significant amount of duplication of effort and burden and players -- impose on the community. >> thank you. >> i would echo that. i think that is important for the citizens. not just of west virginia across the country that these guidelines be made public. whether it is with the chemical forwith the emergency plan is.storage tanks nice to be easily accessible to the public.
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as we tackleinia this crisis, had we make sure it is not happen again? again to emphasize once the proposal to have the 10 year, long-term study that we can put in place. we did to start today. we need to look at the health of west virginia. might beo know what happening that tenure. i concur. think this is a good commonsense approach to help solve these problems. i want to reinforce a couple of things and been said. spill, theree is a
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are three touch points. would be reasonable to expect one more call. to local water facility downstream. making bulk chemical storage facilities understand the risks and understand the closest water intake structure and where it is. if there where of that, there is a requirement that local water provider be notified, that can go along way. chairman.ou, mr. i really don't have anything. existingious about regulation and loopholes, but i think you covered that.
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place, protections in but we have some problems need to address in the future. hopefully we can work together. this needs to come from the ground up. we need to look at unfunded liabilities on people that have no resources. municipalities are struggling. again, hopefully we can work together and get a solution. >> we do want to work with you. we want to work and see how we can be helpful. priority is to do what we can to prevent these episodes are happening again. we can learn from what happened in west virginia. at the privateps
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sector level in the government level. we want to make sure that we knowknowledge, that we what information is out there. a company should be held accountable. we are concerned about the business aspect of this company. they have taken steps to avoid responsibility. it is been pointed out to many of you. i hope that we can work together to minimize these risks. we can do it in a way that is cost effective. and it really works, we don't want to do things will cause additional burdens without benefits. we can seeether, that is being done by the west virginia legislature. i expect the same response in congress. we need to be a constructive partner to the people of west virginia. thank you very much for your
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testimony. with that, the hearing stands adjourned. >> the house returns at noon. to suspension bills are on the agenda with votes after 6:30 p.m.
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meanwhile, the senate gavels in at 2:00 p.m. to consider reducing military retirees under the age of 62. the reduction was part of the budget agreement that both chambers passed last month. a procedural vote is expected at 5:30 p.m. 60 votes a be required to advance the bill. c-spantch the house on and the senate on c-span2. i have often said that when i am traveling on amtrak that i run to the quiet car. it will provide consumers, more
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opportunities for data rich engagement. it will open up the market for more competitors to provide. when you look at the international ecosystem, i have 90% of engagement is data only. a very small part of it is conversation. it is up to the carriers, the airlines. >> the sec commissioner will be on the communicators on c-span2. coming up next, q&a. followed by washington journal, 7:00 a.m. eastern. ♪
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>> this week on "q&a," bernard tate, former c-span producer in london. he discusses his 25 years with the network and his career in journalism. >> the man on your screen is named bernard tate. most of you in the audience have not seen him before on c-span, but he has worked at c-span for over 25 years, just retired as our london producer. when you look back at the last 25 years and the relationship between great britain and the united states via c-span, what comes to mind? >> i think the great period of closeness between britain and the united states. the relationship has fluctuated.

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